ensembles & choirs

ENSEMBLES & CHOIRS

In addition to her solo work, Kristine Barrett has been an active member of the acclaimed KITKA Women’s Vocal Ensemble. She also founded and directed the Temple of Light Georgian Choir in Oakland. She currently directs the Headlands Community Folk Ensemble in Sausalito and is a Song Director at Sound Orchard in West Marin.

 
KITKA at the Chicago Children’s Chorus’ World Music Festival, Chicago IL; 2019.

KITKA at the Chicago Children’s Chorus’ World Music Festival, Chicago IL; 2019.

Kristine Barrett (right), Sharon Shao, Angel Adedokun, and Janet Kutulus rehearse for Shotgun Players/Kitka production of the folk opera Iron Shoes; Berkeley CA, 2018.

Kristine Barrett (right), Sharon Shao, Angel Adedokun, and Janet Kutulus rehearse for Shotgun Players/Kitka production of the folk opera Iron Shoes; Berkeley CA, 2018.

Kitka is an American women’s vocal arts ensemble inspired by traditional songs and vocal techniques from Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Founded in 1979 as an offshoot of the Westwind International Folk Ensemble, Kitka began as a grassroots group of amateur singers from diverse ethnic and musical backgrounds who shared a passion for the stunning dissonances, asymmetric rhythms, intricate ornamentation, and resonant strength of traditional Eastern European women’s vocal music. Since its informal beginnings, the group has evolved into an award-winning professional touring ensemble known for its artistry, versatility, and mastery of the demanding techniques of regional vocal styling, as well as for its innovative explorations in new music for female voices. With an overarching mission of cultivating local and global community through song. Kitka’s activities include an Oakland-based home series of concerts and vocal workshops, leadership of community choirs, regional, national, and international touring, programs in the schools, recording, publication, and broadcast projects, artist residencies, commissioning original works, community service, and adventuresome collaborations. Kitka’s wide-ranging performance, teaching, and recording activities have exposed millions to the haunting beauty of the ensemble’s exquisite and unusual repertoire. With deep ties to Balkan, Slavic and Caucasian lands, Kitka has performed, taught, and conducted cultural exchange activities in Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia, as well as in communities throughout the USA, Canada, and beyond.

The ensemble has produced 14 critically acclaimed recordings on the group’s independent Diaphonica label (most recently, Evening Star), songbooks, soundtracks for major motion pictures and independent films, and Kitka and Davka in Concert: Old and New World Jewish Music, a PBS television special.

An important aspect of Kitka’s work has also been the creation of multidisciplinary vocal theater works that tell stories of unconventional women in Eastern European folklore, myth, and history. Projects of note include ACT’s productions of Hecuba with Olympia Dukakis and Viola Davis, directed by Carey Perloff with original music by David Lang; Women in Black with AXIS Dance directed by Thais Mazur with original music by Katrina Wreade; Songs from Mama’s Table with Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir; Cantigas de Amigo with Ensemble Alcatraz; The Rusalka Cycle: Songs between the Worlds and Singing Through Darkness, directed by Ellen Sebastian Chang and Andre Erlen with original music by Mariana Sadovska; Meredith Monk’s Vocal Alchemy; Eric Banks’ I will remember everything: a lyric biography of Sophia Parnok; and, most recently, a critically acclaimed, sold out run of Iron Shoes, a contemporary folk opera created by Janet Kutulas (composer), Michelle Carter (playwright), and Erika Chong Shuch (director and choreographer), co-produced by Shotgun Players.

 

 
Temple of Light Georgian Choir + Kristine Barrett
Temple of Light Georgian Choir + Kristine Barrett

TEMPLE OF LIGHT GEORGIAN COMMUNITY CHOIR

is an American volunteer mixed-gender community vocal arts project dedicated to the study and performance of traditional polyphonic music from the Republic of Georgia, Lazona, and neighboring Black Sea and Caucasus regions. In addition to learning repertoire, ToLGCC will also explore the folklore, history, and ethnographic context of each song while simultaneously developing ensemble skills: blending, vocal placement and quality, pitch, and pronunciation.  Kristine Barrett directs the choir.

 

 
Kristine Barrett + Headlands Community Folk Ensemble + Kitka

HEADLANDS COMMUNITY FOLK ENSEMBLE

Ports and harbors are places where culture and ideas are exchanged. From Norwegian sea spells to Irish sean-nós songs, Headlands Community Folk Ensemble is a women’s vocal arts project exploring song traditions from Northern lands, connecting the wild Atlantic Ocean to the Baltic Sea; from Ireland and the British Isles to Scandinavia, Iceland, and Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.  Traversing ancient trade routes, we will also explore the folklore, history, and ethnographic context of each song while simultaneously honing our ensemble skills: blending, vocal placement and quality, pitch, pronunciation, and various vocal techniques unique to each tradition. Kristine Barrett directs the ensemble. More information here.

 

 

SOUND ORCHARD: WEST MARIN CHOIR

is a 60-member community choir with chapters in Point Reyes and Stinson Beach, singing soulful and heartful group harmony songs and chants from around the world. The choir sings a-cappella songs, folk songs, spirituals and more. It was founded in 2013 by Devi Daly and Tim Weed and is now a nonprofit program of Sound Orchard. Kristine Barrett joins the staff as choir director for the Songs of Winter workshop this October. More information here.